The Americas have a rich fauna of freshwater isopods, primarily in the family Asellidae, but also smaller interstitial groups such as the family Microcerberidae and Protojaniridae. Similar to most isopods, Asellidae live under rocks, fallen leaves and vegetation in streams and lakes, or in caves or groundwater. Consequently, they are not well known to most people. The animal shown here is a species of the genus Caecidotea from Saugatuck Michigan. It lives in a small creek at the end of my street.
These freshwater isopods will be the subject of a new research project at the lab in the coming years, including a revision of the genus Caecidotea. A collaboration with Mexican student Leonardo García Vázquez will add a broader dimension to the study, as his PhD thesis is exploring the systematics of Caecidotea in Mexico.